To my husband’s great consternation, I have purchased, perhaps predictably, a mini library for our ten month old baby. Of all these books (which he confidently numbers in the “hundreds”, but which I’d pitch at probably half that), there are a great many wonderful ones; books which educate, enlighten, and are entertaining.
So I’m not altogether sure why I chose Goodnight Moon to be the book I read at bedtime each evening. It’s certainly not my favourite. It’s also, if we’re honest, quite strange.
If you haven’t had the delight of reading it, Goodnight Moon is perhaps the creepiest children’s book you will ever encounter. It is ostensibly the simple tale of a baby rabbit going to bed and saying goodnight to all the things in his room.
Things like “a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush.” Because who doesn’t keep mush on their nightstand overnight? Perhaps most terrifying of all is the “quiet old lady whispering hush” inexplicably in the corner, with her angry eyebrows.
The pictures are like a fever dream mixed with Bojack Horseman. There isn’t a narrative. The baby bunny seems to live in some kind of enormous mansion, deserted of family, where kittens and mice play near a desolate dolls’ house. One of the framed pictures on the wall is of three depressed bears sitting in some kind of therapy circle.
I think I chose this as the daily read because of these things. Because when a baby is four months old, which is when I started this ritual, they don’t understand the meaning behind words and stories. He wasn’t even looking at the pictures to begin with. I think I chose this book because I find its bizarre words and terrifying pictures endlessly entertaining.
What Goodnight Moon has going for it, though, is length – it’s a six minute read, I would estimate – rhyme, big pictures and very few words, and entertainment for parents everywhere. And now, 6 months on from the first reading, just the sight of the book is the “bedtime soon” signal for the baby, who after each reading – and often after sampling the corner of the book with his discerning palate – falls joyfully and easily to sleep.